Getting the daily recommendations of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is a daunting task. Many people turn to supplements to reach these goals.
In general, nature is best, so we should try to get proper nutrition from food and drink to keep our bodies performing at their peak. Plus, the federal government doesn’t regulate the supplement industry, so there’s no guarantee that what’s on the label is in the bottle. Despite this, more than a third of Americans take powders, pills, and potions to improve health or performance. For some, this is a wise move. For example, pregnant women need a large amount of folic acid to reduce the risk of the fetus developing defects, so a folic acid pill is beneficial.
Most vitamins need water to dissolve (These include vitamin C and B vitamins), so whatever surplus a supplement gives you of these substances leaves the body in urine. Because supplements contain concentrated amounts of nutrients, overdosing on fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, causes them to build up in the body. This surplus can lead to a variety of problems, such as blood clotting disturbance, organ damage, stroke, or coma.
Few live up to their marketing hype; some even contain substances banned by sports organizations. Most supplements aimed at fitness buffs focus on proteins to build muscles. The change lasts a few minutes for the few supplements that can improve performance. Others turn on muscle production but don’t produce any real muscle growth.
Consult a doctor or registered dietitian to determine your nutrient needs and whether supplements can help you meet these goals. Plus, remember to include supplements to the list of drugs you regularly take because they may interfere with prescribed medications or be the cause of a physical problem.